Next month sees the Cook For Syria charity campaign enter its second year. During the month of November, chefs, café owners and bakers around the UK will put a “Syrian-inspired twist” on an existing dish or, indeed, create a completely new one. Each time it is served/sold, £2 will be donated to Unicef UK's Children of Syria Fund.
Lyle’s will serve raw mutton, roast mutton skin, pomegranate, yoghurt, sumac, Aleppo chilli and freekeh; Bubbledogs are doing a special Cook For Syria dog with spiced lamb, muhammara and yoghurt; and Smokestak have come up with za'atar-crusted brisket with Syrian-style salad, pickled cucumber yoghurt and harissa on flatbread. Dozens more London restaurants are participating, including Koya Bar, Jikoni, Palatino, Ikoyi, som saa, Salon Brixton, Kricket, Black Axe Mangal and Brunswick House.
Last month, #CookForSyria was recognised as Best Ethical Food Project at the Observer Food Monthly Awards. The initiative, founded in 2016 by social media influencer Clerkenwell Boy, Suitcase Magazine CEO Serena Guen and London restaurant PR Gemma Bell, has inspired volunteer-led charity supper clubs in cities including London, Edinburgh, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, San Francisco and Melbourne. It has raised a total of £350,000 (and counting) so far. Its aim is not only to raise money, but also to “preserve and celebrate Syrian culture amid one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time.”
As well as all the restaurant partnerships, a one-off fundraising dinner will be held at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond on Thursday 9 November, cooked by Petersham chef Damian Clisby and Simon Whitley of newly opened Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden, alongside Syrian restaurant entrepreneur Imad Alarnab, who ran several restaurants, juice bars and café before he was forced to flee with his family. To reserve tickets for the candlelit Syrian-inspired feast, visit Eventbrite.
Finally, the #BakeForSyria event, a spin-off event that took place on Columbia Road earlier this year, will take place again at newly revamped Old Spitalfields Market on Saturday 18 November. Taking part are Violet Bakery, Bread Ahead, Fatties Bakery, Melissa Hemsley, Dominique Ansel and Bake for Syria event founder Lily Vanilli.